The first Chenin Blanc International Congress will take place in Angers, France, from 01 to 03 July 2019

Monday, 24 June, 2019
In September 2016, a research exchange and networking meeting was held in Savennières, France, between the Chenin Blanc Association (CBA), the University of Stellenbosch (SU) and the various French research organisations.

Dr Hélène Nieuwoudt (senior researcher, Institute for Wine Biotechnology, SU) and Ina Smith, Manager of the CBA, were present at this meeting.

A meeting was then held in Savennières in November 2016, which laid the foundations for the Chenin academy, and the city of Angers gave its official support to the Académie du Chenin and the Chenin Blanc International Congress of 2019. The president of the academy and the congress is Evelyne de Pontbriand of Domaine du Closel.

This first-ever congress, which brings together the two largest Chenin regions in the world, South Africa and the Loire, will be held at the Jean Monnier Congress Centre in Angers from 01 to 03 July 2019. The theme of the congress is Chenin Blanc in a Changing Environment and the aim is to increase the knowledge of Chenin internationally, particularly in relation to history, terroir, viticultural and winemaking research, and also wine tourism. 

During her visits to South Africa, De Pontbriand was very impressed with our dynamic wine tourism culture and felt strongly that South Africa should be in the centre of this round table discussion.The CBA and Dr Nieuwoudt are both supporting partners for the congress and were very involved with the programme and the speakers. There are seven themes and there will be a South African speaker(s) on each subject.

The South African speakers are:

  • Prof Johan Burger (SU) on future genetic research in Chenin Blanc
  • Irina von Holdt, founder member of the CBA, on the history of Chenin Blanc in South Africa
  • Marco Ventrella (chief viticulturist, KWV) on Chenin Blanc and climate change
  • Dr Hélène Nieuwoudt (SU) on the  sensory analysis of Chenin Blanc 
  • Ken Forrester (chairman, CBA) on the economic model of Chenin Blanc in South Africa
  • Niël Groenewald (MD, Libertas Vineyards & Estates) on the winemaking practices that ensure best-in-class results in a changing environment
  • Valeria Panzeri (SU) on the impact of trellising systems on sensory aspects of Chenin Blanc wines
  • André Morgenthal (project manager, Old Vine Project) on creating an awareness of the heritage of old vines in South Africa and also on South African wine tourism
  • Cathy van Zyl MW on methods to compare, classify and judge the different styles of Chenin Blanc and also the evolution of the taste of Chenin.

Forty-five South African Chenin producers and researchers will be attending. The congress is thus a powerful vote of confidence in Chenin. We hope it will become a regular event, with the next congress hosted in South Africa in 2021.

The website is:

Evelyne de Pontbriand and Ken Forrester
Evelyne de Pontbriand and Ken Forrester

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